Page last updated at 14:05 GMT, Friday, 5 February 2010

Anger at Blue Cross plan to shut animal welfare centres

A horse
The Northiam centre in East Sussex is home to retired horses

Volunteers have urged a charity not to close its animal welfare centres in East Sussex and Suffolk.

The Blue Cross has said its Northiam and Felixstowe centres could be wound down over the next few months following a review of its services.

The pet charity said the sites were "outdated and no longer fit for purpose."

But volunteers said the decision was short-sighted and urged the charity to reconsider.

I think they are being very short-sighted
Sharon Robinson

Sharon Robinson, who volunteers one day a week at the Northiam centre for retired horses in St Francis Fields, said: "The feeling in the area is very emotional at the moment. We have gone from shock to anger and outrage.

"I believe that what the Blue Cross do is of very high standard and I respect them immensely but I don't respect the decision they are taking.

"The centre has been ticking on nicely for 50 years and I think they are being very short-sighted."

'Limited resources'

Over the past six months, the Blue Cross has undertaken a widespread review of animal welfare needs.

It plans to redirect resources to where animal welfare needs are not being sufficiently addressed, such as the North West.

Chief executive Kim Hamilton said: "Our charitable funds are becoming increasingly stretched, especially in the current financial climate, while animal welfare issues across the country are changing.

"The proposals we are discussing with staff aim to help more vulnerable animals and owners nationwide by focusing our limited resources in areas where we can achieve more."

A final decision on the future of Felixstowe and Northiam will be taken following a consultation with staff.

About 30 horses currently based at Northiam will be rehomed at other equestrian centres.

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